Study: IVC Filter Procedures Are Overused

Recent findings suggest that IVC filter procedures may be unnecessary in managed care situations and that doctors may be neglecting to remove them when needed.

Humana Inc. announced that a study published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis looked at different health conditions of those patients who received an IVC filter and those who did not receive one.

This study also looked at patients who underwent IVC filter procedures as preventative measures, meaning that they did not yet have deep vein thrombosis, and those who underwent IVC filter procedures who were already diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis.

Interestingly, the study found that even though IVC filter procedures are designed for those who cannot tolerate blood thinning medications, blood thinner use was higher among IVC filter patients..

What this indicated, researchers said, was that inferior vena cava filters were being implanted in patients that did not meet “the criteria of clinical practice guidelines.”

Humana researchers believe this is cause for concern. Essentially, if IVC filters are being used for patients that do not necessarily need them or are being overused, there is an increased risk of hospitalization and complications associated with IVC filters.

IVC filters potentially can cause complications such as additional deep vein thrombosis, filter migration, filter fracture, filter embolism, and organ perforation. Many of these complications require hospitalization and subsequent surgeries.


What is an IVC Filter?

An IVC filter, or inferior vena cava filter, is a small, metal device that is placed inside the inferior vena cava to catch blood clots that may travel from the lower extremities of the body to the lungs or heart.

Some patients may not be candidates to take blood thinning medications. In these cases, an IVC filter may be the answer. The IVC filter catches blood clots caused by deep vein thrombosis that can travel to the lungs and has the potential to cause a fatal pulmonary embolism.


IVC Filter Procedures

Those who undergo IVC filter procedures receive an IVC filter directly into their inferior vena cava. IVC filter procedures consist of a surgeon inserting the IVC filter in a large vein, most often the femoral vein near the groin after numbing the area first. The surgeon does this by inserting a long, thin wire catheter that will place the filter in the correct place before releasing it.

After a period of time, the IVC filter should be removed. If it is not removed, it can cause additional problems such as deep vein thrombosis, the very reason some patients receive the blood clot filter in the first place.

Humana found that only six percent of IVC filters were removed in patients who received the filters for preventative measures because of a history of blood clots, and they were removed in only 16 percent of those who received filters because of surgery or other potentially unsafe blood clot condition.

Essentially, the Humana research calls into question the nature of how many patients might be implanted with IVC filters unnecessarily.

If you or a loved one has suffered complications caused by an IVC filter, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced attorneys at McDonald Worley for a FREE case evaluation. 


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